Does Genesis 12:3 apply only to Abraham or does it apply to Israel?

The Nugget:

Gen 12:3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (KJV)

My Comment:

I have just re-read an interesting post on Facebook that makes the claim that the promise of Genesis 12:3 only applies to Abraham himself and not to the nation of Israel:

Possibly one of the most used scriptures of the century. People who haven’t even read one verse from the Bible will quote you this verse to justify their undying support for Israel. Why? Because this scripture has been used to imply that the blessing to Abraham was not just to Abraham but to all Israel, and therefore for all Jews, FOR ALL TIME. If it is, it would have to be the only unconditional (promise) verse in the Bible.

The person making this claim may not have studied the Bible carefully. To suggest that if this verse applies to Israel and not just to Abraham himself makes this “the only unconditional promise” in the Bible has missed the fact that there are many more  unconditional promises in the Bible besides this one!

Genesis 12:3 forms a part of the Abrahamic Covenant. There are provisions in the Abrahamic Covenant that are unconditional. So Genesis 12:3 is not the only unconditional promise in the Bible.

How about Genesis 3:15?

Gen 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (KJV)

Genesis 3:15 is regarded by careful students of Bible prophecy to be the first Messianic Prophecy in the Bible. It predicts that the Messiah will be born of a woman. It was precisely fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ and no other (Galatians 4:4). It is an unconditional promise. Read it for yourself. It is obvious.

Here is another unconditional Bible promise that pertains to Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant and to the nation of Israel:

Lev 26:42  Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. 

Notice particularly the promise that “I will remember the land.” That means that God has promised to remember and keep the Land Promise provision of the Abrahamic Covenant. This is another unconditional promise. There are no “strings attached.” The promise is absolute. Again, read it for yourself. It is obvious.

So, we can know for sure that there are unconditional promises in the Bible. I just showed you two of them off the top of my head.

Now, as for the claim that Genesis 12:3 applies only to Abraham himself and not to the nation of Israel, the answer to this mistaken claim is readily found if we:

(1) follow the rule of interpretation that we must consult all the Bible declares about a subject before we draw any firm conclusions;

(2) check this claim by following out what are called cross references which lead us to the other parts of the Bible or places in the Bible where the promise is repeated and note to whom the Bible applies the promise in those places;

(3) recognize that the claim as made states absolutely that Genesis 12:3 applies only to Abraham himself and that the claim can be proven false if the promise is applied anywhere in the Bible itself to the nation of Israel rather than just the person of Abraham alone.

It is so applied:

Num 24:2  And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. 

Num 24:3  And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 

Num 24:4  He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: 

Num 24:5  How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! 

Num 24:6  As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.

Notice that Balaam in his inspired prophecy is speaking of the nation of Israel (see Numbers 24:5 immediately above).

Num 24:8  God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. 

Num 24:9  He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. 

Notice that Numbers 24:8 tells us that the nation of Israel has been brought forth out of Egypt by God. Balaam then (Numbers 24:9) applies the very promise God gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 to the nation of Israel, saying “Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.”

Since the Bible itself applies the promise of Genesis 12:3 made to Abraham to the nation of Israel in Numbers 24:9, the unconditional promise is properly applicable to the nation of Israel, proving the claim that it only applies to Abraham personally to be false.

The poster makes the further claim:

This was never a Christian teaching until the arrival of John Darby a defrocked Anglican minister who began to teach that this blessing to Abraham was not just for Abraham but for all Israel. Bear in mind that Israel was never a place. God never said to Abraham I’m taking you to Israel but rather that God was taking Abraham to the land of Canaan. John Darby became immortalised in the C. I. Scofield Bible (a dubious character in his own right). The teaching of Darby and C. I. Scofield became known as Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is the belief system that is now prevalent in the Christian Evangelical Church.

Somehow this paragraph contains a number of logical flaws and factual misstatements. That John Darby is not the source of the teaching that Genesis 12:3 applies to the nation of Israel is clear because it is taught in the Bible itself in the passage from the book of Numbers that I have cited above.

To suggest that Israel was never a place, but rather Canaan is the place God was taking Abraham, misses the plain fact that what was called Canaan has since been called Israel. Both names apply to the same geographical Land Promise.

Notice that the argument of the second paragraph of the post is in the form of an ad hominem argument, which is a logical fallacy by which the character of someone or something supposedly associated with (in this case) a particular Bible teaching is impugned by mere reference to a person or  persons (Darby and Scofield, in this case) who taught the doctrine.

This entry was posted in Bible Promises, Bible Prophecy, Doctrinal Discussions, How to Study the Bible and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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